Who Do You Write Like?

I know, it’s a strange title. But it’s a question I get a lot (my high school English teacher would bristle at that use of a lot: “A lot is a place where a house is built, ladies and gentlemen!”). Often. It’s a question I get often. There. Much better.

Some people write mysteries. Others write thrillers. Suspense, perhaps. Then there’s literary fiction, where the use of language is almost more important than what that language actually says.

There are so many different genres—YA (young adult), magical realism, fantasy (which differs slightly from the broad sci-fi designation)–that to pigeonhole a writer into one, and only one, is not fair to them. Yet it’s done all the time.

I write stories I would want to read. I think every writer does. Mine do tend to land in the fantasy genre (though rarely, if ever, do they contain mythological creatures).

A conversation I’m very used to having when I’ve just met someone:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Oh. That’s great! What do you write?”

“Fiction. Short stories. I’m working on a novel.”

“Ah,” says the interested party. “Who do you write like?”

I write like me. My books are my books. But the potential reader doesn’t know my work. So I have to take a shot in the dark that they might know the work of someone else.

“Do you know Mitch Albom?” I ask.

“The Tuesdays With Morrie guy?”

We’re off-track just a bit. “He’s written novels, too. The Five People You Meet In Heaven?”

“Oh, sure,” says the bookworm. “I like that one. So you write like that, huh?”

“Kind of.”

It’ll be confusing if I tell the guy, “I have cerebral palsy. You might have noticed I walk a little differently? I write stories about people who are just like you. They experience life just like you, and have wants and hopes and dreams like you. Only, like me, they have palsy.”  He might think my stories are only for people with palsy, as opposed to what they really are: Stories I–and hopefully many–would want to read about interesting characters in fantastical situations, one of whom might just happen to have what I have and walk like I walk and experience life the way I experience life. I’ll just let the Albom comparison stand.

When It was suggested that I keep this blog, I gave a firm “no” at first. I feared blogging would be like shouting into a dark void and hoping to hear my words echo back in the mouths and minds of actual readers. But I changed my mind when I realized that, through this blog, people who were truly interested could discover “who I write like”.

I write like Mitch Albom, preferring his secular slant on things to another of my favorite authors, Richard Paul Evans’ more obviously religious style. That is not a comment on either writer. I enjoy both. Personally, I believe in a higher power (though I know people who don’t), and I would like to believe that, when the time comes, I’ll be able to ask Him (or Her) why I was given my exact obstacles in life. God’s plan might be enough for some. It isn’t, for me. There has to be more.

I write with just a bit of the sarcasm my grandfather gave me. I write with humor that isn’t mean but can be biting sometimes, if it’s done right. I write characters who aren’t perfect, because no one is perfect. I do prefer Frank Capra films over scary movies that stay with you at night, and that preference leaks into my words and work.

Put simply, I. Write. Like. Me. And I’m as proud of that now, as a novelist seeking representation, as I will be should I find it. I hope you will want to read what I have to say, because I’ve got a lot to tell you!

*Grin.*

 

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